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Thread: Help with Hand Quilting!

  1. #1
    Junior Member mimmy96's Avatar
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    Help with Hand Quilting!

    I am very new to this.. never done this before.. Working on a project that a lady had started hand quilting and was over half way done with it.. so I want to finish it! .. I can not get down the whole "rocking" with a thimble thing... I am doing it but my seams are still far apart! .. Any helps? .. It was in a hoop, but I took it out and it seemed to work better for me without one.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    A frequent beginner mistake is to hoop too tightly. There should be about 4" of "give" in the quilt after you have hooped -- meaning you should be able to move the quilt 2" or so up and 2" or so down. It should *never* be drum tight. You are probably finding it easier to quilt without a hoop because you are able to move the fabric now. I have tried hand quilting both ways, and have much better stitch quality when I use a hoop -- but hoop very loosely.

    What size needle are you using? Smaller stitches come with practice. If I were you, I would create a practice sandwich before tackling an actual quilt.

    Aim first for making even stitches, all the same length. Once you are pretty good at that, you can start trying to make your stitches smaller. It is more important to have even stitches than small stitches.

  3. #3
    Member wpbmommy1's Avatar
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    When I tried hand quilting I had the same problem. My stitches were far apart and they didn't look very defined. I kept sticking the finger on the bottom and the thimbles kept flying off. I haven't gone back to hand quilting after that but I want to so badly so I can have something to take with me to work on when I'm not home.
    Last edited by wpbmommy1; 01-26-2013 at 09:34 PM.

  4. #4
    Super Member DOTTYMO's Avatar
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    Stop trying to rock too many times and put. The hoop on one side to begin. I had hand surgery and my hand not fully restored to normal and am hand quilting without hoop and just one or two rocks at a time.
    Finished is better than a UFO

  5. #5
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    i love hand-quilting! i agree with the above posters - do a little bit of practicing first on something else til you get the hang of it. even size stitches are more important than tiny - you really can't get tiny until you've gotten enough practice. you get a rhythm going after about a half hour each time you pick it up, so if you just hang in there it gets easier. your underneath finger will get calloused. it also helps to have needles specifically for quilting because they are smaller (diameter) and shorter. i just rock 2-3 stitches on the needle then pull it through.

    you'll get it with practice - don't worry about perfection, go for having fun and just persist.

  6. #6
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    Nodding here as I read above--I agree with all of the advice. Sharp needles, even stitches, practice makes us better at fine motor skills. I have just begun to quilt my twin size Stripes and Squares on my bottom-of-the-line Singer--fingers crossed that it all goes well. The Singer's first try at quilting anything since I bought her half a year ago....
    Last edited by Lynda M O; 01-27-2013 at 12:37 AM.

  7. #7
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    You've gotten excellent advice already. You're probably finding it easier with no hoop because it was probably hooped too tight previously. It's perfectly ok to quilt with no hoop, however. Whatever works for you. Thimbles are tricky buggers. It takes some patience to a) get used to them if you've not used them extensively before and b) find the right fit/type that works for you. I personally prefer the Thimblelady's thimble. It's open ended and you push with the pad of your finger vs. the top of your finger. Has deep dimples to hold the needle more securely. Size matters for thimbles. For needles, I prefer Roxanne needles. I use #11 or #12 but would probably start with a #10. Other quilters will have differing opinions on both thimbles and needles. It's what works for you.

    Don't fret over the 'rocking'. It will come with time. You can even do stab-stitching. The goal is even stitches, regardless of how you get there. It might be helpful, at least initially, to have a small practice piece to start off with for a few minutes, just to get your rhythm going. Then jump over to your actual quilt.

  8. #8
    Junior Member mimmy96's Avatar
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    Thank you so much everyone for the advice! I will keep at it! I have never used a thimble before and I was sure fighting that thing..haha! .. I got up today excited about giving it another try! So we shall see how this goes! Appriciate all the help.. it is greatly needed and appriciated!

  9. #9
    Super Member Abby'smom's Avatar
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    handquilting is a very diy thing!! -- it takes practice and experimentation -- also the batting thickness makes a big difference in stitch length!! -- it's a whatever-works-for-you kind of thing -- just keep at it and try some of the ideas -- I like little sharp needles, an oval hoop, and guide lines -- good luck to you -- just go for it!!
    Last edited by Abby'smom; 01-27-2013 at 08:03 AM. Reason: left out a letter in a word!!
    diane

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by oregongirl View Post
    i love hand-quilting! i agree with the above posters - do a little bit of practicing first on something else til you get the hang of it. even size stitches are more important than tiny - you really can't get tiny until you've gotten enough practice. you get a rhythm going after about a half hour each time you pick it up, so if you just hang in there it gets easier. your underneath finger will get calloused. it also helps to have needles specifically for quilting because they are smaller (diameter) and shorter. i just rock 2-3 stitches on the needle then pull it through.

    you'll get it with practice - don't worry about perfection, go for having fun and just persist.
    I was wondering if anyone has ever used a leather thimble on their finger underneath the hoop? I can't get past that needle coming down to stab my lower finger!!!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by majormom View Post
    I was wondering if anyone has ever used a leather thimble on their finger underneath the hoop? I can't get past that needle coming down to stab my lower finger!!!
    Majormom, it's all about controlling the needle. You might try a different brand of needle - I find that some needles slip through the sandwich too fast, ending up in my finger. Right now I'm using John James because they don't slip. I push down until I just feel the tip of the needle on my underneath finger, then rock up. My last batch of Roxanne needles were super slick - I can't use them.

    If your underneath finger is really sore I've read that electrical tape is a good thing to cover the finger and still let you feel the needle coming through.

  12. #12
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    i confess that i never use a hoop - i did an entire queen sized quilt without a hoop. i smoothed it over my lap, tucking it under my legs to hold it smooth. the main thing is it has to be well basted and no matter how you do it, you want the layers flat and smooth.

    the point above about the batting is really important. if you have a thick batting, you almost can't get it rocking. the thinnest battings are best for hand-quilting. i learned that one the hard way!!! if you have a thick batting the up and down stab method is about as good as it gets.

    the biggest thing is to have fun. don't concentrate on making an heirloom - just enjoy the process.

    my queen-sized quilt (which has been on our bed for several years now) took 15 years to get finished, but my mom (now gone), my sister, sister-in-law and cousin all quilted on it. that makes it beyond special to me. ironically, the quilting isn't consistent - in some places the diagonal quilt lines cross from the outer border over the inner border and in some places the lines end at the outer border edge. i meant it to skip over the inner border. but . . . i decided it was more important to me to have stitching from the special women in my life on it than to have it be perfect. no one but me knows it has inconsistencies.

    anyway, i just mean to encourage you to enjoy the process and don't stress about perfection.

  13. #13
    Junior Member mimmy96's Avatar
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    Thanks for the encouragement! I am def going to try to just focus on having fun, instead of trying to make it perfect! Your right.. I will learn in time!!!! but you know how we are.. we want to know it NOW..lol..

  14. #14
    Super Member mommafank's Avatar
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    I too, do not use a hoop---lap quilting and I know several who find this the way that works for them. Needles make a difference as well as the batting. You learn what works best for you as you continue to try different things. I honestly believe that there is no wrong way as long as you get the result you want.
    Mary
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